Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Multichannel Marketing Class June 8: Trends in Multichannel and SEO

Bob Arkema from Johnson & Quin led us in a lively discussion of how the direct and interactive industry is changing in a post financial-meltdown world. For the first time since data has been kept, direct mail spending decreased last year. Search and social media spending are predicted to grow but most other media are flat or declining. Companies are taking a good, hard look at what they mail and how much they mail. Mail is seen increasingly as a companion to other channels, such as online or email, which is consistent with the multichannel theme of our class. I have heard similar comments from other direct mail providers. Specialty houses that can do smaller print runs using variable digital printing for highly personalized communication so far seem to be holding their own, although there has been a lot of industry consolidation. It is my impression that we are living through an unprecedented change in the industry. Much of this change was driven by the collapse of our financial institutions, many of whom were heavy direct mailers.

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) in New York itself has gone through several rounds of layoffs. I recently was nominated for a position on the board of CADM (Chicago Association of Direct Marketing) so I will get to help guide this organization through these troubled waters. In times of downturn, it always seems to me that basic marketing principles are key. Best Buy survives because it has a clear differentiation strategy and by the way makes great use of its customer data. Circuit City tried to play catch up but just could not distinguish itself in the marketplace.

Catching up from last week, we also talked about SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Search is divided into paid versus organic search. Keywords are the terms users employ when searching for something. Organic search is free. Search engines use algorithms to determine page rank. Web spiders or 'crawlers' search the web and analyze pages to determine page rank. In natural search, these programs are looking to see that the blue title onthe top matches web site content, that the content of the web site matches the keywords used in search and to some extent the keywords in the HTML code, and that there are sites linked to the site and that the site links to others. These crawlers cannot read pictures so it is important to 'tag' pictures with descriptions that match the keywords the company wishes to identify with the site.

We also talked about the importance of good writing in business communication. I will spot each group three and only three poorly constructed sentences, typos and/or grammar mistakes in deference to our short-class format. After that, it is a point taken for each problem noted by me. We talked about the proper use of demonstrative pronouns. Except in rare cases, pronouns such as this and they in formal writing need to be substituted for a proper noun or have some kind of additional noun used with them. Instead of saying "This is important in multichannel marketing,' for example, substitute "This trend" or "This concern." Avoid addressing the audience as 'you' except in persuasive communication.
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